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Blast in Egypt injures more than 20; interior minister survives

September 05, 2013|By Raja Abdulrahim and Ingy Hassieb | This post has been updated. See the notes below for details.

CAIRO -- Egypt’s interior minister survived an assassination attempt Thursday when two explosions targeted his convoy en route to the ministry, state media and the Interior Ministry reported.

Mohamed Ibrahim was unhurt but a driver and several bystanders were injured, said an Interior Ministry security official, who did not want his name published because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

"We still have not been notified with the exact number of injuries, but the minister is fine," he said.

[Updated, 11 a.m. PDT Sept. 5: Later reports said a dozen police officers and security officers and nine bystanders were injured -- among them a child and a police officer who each lost a leg -- and that one explosion occurred]

The official said it was unclear if the device was a car bomb or an explosive set off as the convoy passed through the Nasr City district.

One state media outlet reported that a bomb was thrown at the convoy from a nearby building.

Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi's Cabinet released a statement condemning the attack, which it said injured civilians and police officers. 

"The Cabinet confirms that this criminal offense will not deter the government from facing off terrorism with force and determination, or hitting with an iron fist any hand that jeopardizes the nation's safety, and that is until stability returns to the corners of our beloved Egypt," the statement read.

The attack came as Egypt was beginning to return to normal after weeks of bloody crackdowns on the supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and ongoing street protests against the military-backed interim government.

Ibrahim has been the target of many of those protesters, who have called for his ouster.

For Egypt, the attack could mark what some fear is the beginning of a low-grade insurgency in a country that has a history of terror attacks in the 1990s and 2000s in which hundreds of Egyptians and foreign tourists were killed.

As street demonstrations become smaller amid tight military security and the crackdown on dissent continues, there is concern that some in the opposition might resort to more violence against the interim government.

[Updated, 11 a.m. PDT Sept. 5: Interim President Adly Mansour released a statement guaranteeing that officials “would not allow for the terrorism that came before in the ’80s and ’90s and consumed the population to show its ugly face again.” He added that those responsible, no matter their affiliation, would be brought to justice.]

Since the July 3 military coup that unseated Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, militant attacks against the army and security forces have intensified in the restive Sinai Peninsula. On Aug. 19, 25 police officers were ambushed and executed in Sinai, where security forces have been battling emboldened militants for months.

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raja.abdulrahim@latimes.com

Twitter: @rajaabdulrahim


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